The SEB Professional story: 4 common challenges of a global S/4HANA implementation
Groupe SEB is a major French company specializing in household and consumer electrics. With familiar brands like Rowenta, Tefal, Krups and Moulinex, SEB holds a prominent position in the market. For their PCM division S/4HANA is the new leading ERP Tool. The Benelux region was pilot for Europe and had a tough time keeping track with the implementation team. We compiled 4 of the biggest challenges that organizations face when they have to implement SAP S/4HANA.
Groupe SEB's PCM Division focuses exclusively on B2B products: professional coffee machines for hotels, restaurants, companies and more. Of the roughly 100 employees, about 60% are field service technicians. This makes the market companies SME's, while being part of a multinational corporation.
To meet global implementation roadmap expectations, Groupe SEB wanted the Benelux division to implement SAP S/4HANA in just 6 months. This proved to be a challenging project. Finance Director Steve Suykerbuyk shares valuable lessons for companies in a similar situation.
Challenge 1: Timing and resources
The biggest challenge for SEB PROFESSIONAL Benelux was undoubtedly the lack of time and people to fully support the implementation. “We’re a lean organization, which means we don’t have back-ups for every function”, explains Steve.
“Our lack of resources came on top of a very tight schedule. We started with the project in January, and we had to go live in July. Implementing an ERP in 6 months is a challenge, let alone when you don’t have any dedicated people available and your day-to-day operations need to keep running.”
"Flexso supported us with the implementation by acting as the bridge between business & IT, as well as setting up a change management program to monitor user satisfaction and adoption. It proved to be very ambitious to harmonise change within the tight timeframe available.”
“Start a project like this if you have the dedicated manpower and the time. The importance of choosing an (external) partner and being able to follow their advice is crucial in a project like this. Make sure you have the buy-in from the global management to make decisions based on quality output and not on timing.”
Challenge 2: defining the scope
“Every company/region has its own processes and specific requirements”, says Steve. “That’s why it’s difficult to define the same scope for each market." When implementing an ERP, it’s key to decide what you want to focus on, and where your biggest wins are. Do you want to focus on the processes and business transformation? Or rather on innovation and automation? We had limited freedom, which led to a scope that was quite ambitious and not completely focused on local needs.
“Define a clear and common scope and allow some buffer in your plan to adjust to local requirements popping up along the way.”
Challenge 3: gaining insight in the processes and system
When implementing any ERP, documenting the processes is a fundamental step. But for SEB Professional Benelux, this was not a clear-cut exercise. “We noticed that the project was lacking concrete documentation of the processes to visually demonstrate end-to-end processes to key users", says Steve.
“When we had to adapt our processes to the global system, there was a big gap to close. Our products or services didn’t change, but the way we would process them into the system would drastically change. Before implementing S/4HANA, we needed a clear insight into our processes.”
SEB Professional Benelux called in Flexso’s help to design and map all processes. “Flexso assisted us in documenting the high-level processes in our existing process tool Bizagi and did workshops with IT and operational experts in the global SAP team. The biggest challenge was that the global group applied a decentralized approach. The Benelux processes were supposed to be the reference for the rest of Europe, while we had to comply to the SEB North America system. It was very compicated to define globally applicable processes based on our local way of working.”
“Allow your local key users to get acquainted with the new processes and system logic. Train them well and allow time to absorb the knowledge. Business acceptance testing is not equal to training.”
Challenge 4: master data integration
"Because of the size of our market entities and the broad scope, Groupe functional and IT experts took the lead on the progress of the project. As a consequence of the speed our own people felt less involved and heard in the project", Steve continues.
“Master data integration is a huge task, with many complexities. One month before go-live, we were supposed to consolidate all master data in one database. In our case, the task was managed by an external company, at a time where our colleagues were in over their heads and lost overview of the project. We didn’t have the time to dedicate ourselves to this task. This meant that the master data integration was not done as it’s supposed to. Something we’re still carrying with us in the system today”, Steve explains.
In this project, the master data should have been taken care of in the beginning of the project. Because it is a team effort where every department does their share of the data cleansing and consolidation. This takes time and repeated reviews to get it right.
“Make sure everyone is on board and involved from the very beginning. Make the master data consolidation a team effort, where everyone does their share, and do it at the start of the project.”
The go-live date was met. July 1st marked a new beginning for both market entities. "Thanks to a thorough hypercare period of 3 months we were able to minimize the technical issues. The human cost of change however is still something we bear with us until today, 6 months after go-live. The master data issues proved to be the largest challenge also impacting the service to our customers until today. But, we are improving day by day", Steve concludes.